Baby-led weaning

Baby-led weaning is when you allow your baby to choose what they eat. They then feed themselves solid foods instead of spoon feeding.

To do this, your baby needs to be able to sit upright, pick up and hold food, and bring food to their mouth.

These skills develop in the majority of babies at around 6 months old.

Some parents try a combination of baby-led weaning and spoon feeds. This can work well, particularly if your baby is less independent in their eating. It can ensure that they eat well and get all the nutrients they need.

Good feeding practices

Many of the ideas from baby-led weaning already form part of good feeding practices.

Involve your baby at meal times

Offer your baby similar foods to the rest of the family from an early age. Try to give them a version of the meal you have prepared for the rest of the family, even if it's puréed.

Avoid salt and sauces

Avoid adding salt, jars of sauce or packets like gravies.

Holding spoons

Giving your baby a taste of food on a spoon is a good way for many babies to practice gripping spoons. They will start to get energy and nutrients from foods other than milk.

Finger foods

Offer your baby suitable finger foods from 7 months.


Talk to your public health nurse if you have any concerns about introducing solids or your baby's diet.

Your baby's needs

With baby-led weaning, it's important to offer your baby a varied and balanced diet. Your baby needs enough energy to keep pace with their needs for rapid growth. Make sure they are getting important vitamins and minerals needed.

Your baby's birth weight doubles by 6 months and triples by 1 year old. This rapid growth and development is not repeated at any other time in their life.

Breast or formula milk will give your baby all the nutrients they need until they are 6 months old.

From 6 months, they will begin to need more iron and nutrients than they can get from breast or formula milk.

Page last reviewed: 15 March 2018
Next review due: 15 March 2021